The Pike's Peak practice times for France's Sébastien Loeb and his very special Peugeot 208 T16 hillclimber have been so phenomenal that experts are saying he might be the first competitor at America's second oldest motorsport event to go under nine minutes around last year's shortened course.
The current record is 9.46.164, set in the Time Attack class. competitors ran last year on a shortened course set-up last year because snow clogged the top part of the course. This year the course is clear, and will be longer. Loeb's special car, bristling with Le Mans technology and designed by the same team as made Peugeots endurance racers, seems to be producing high performance on a whole new scale.
The 12.24 mile course on public roads up 'America's Mountain' climbs from 9400ft to 14,100ft above the city of Colorado Springs, and this year entertains around 170 race teams from 19 countries.
Cars practice in seven different classes - plus motorbikes - on the course in three split sections, before putting the whole lot together for the official runs on Sunday. For the second of them, Loeb has so far shaved around 17 seconds off his best rival's time. And this section includes hazards with names like Ragged Edge, Devil's Playground and Bottomless Pit, which was only fully sealed in the last few years.